Contents - December 2005
Welcome to the December Edition of Newslyne, Micralyne's quarterly e-newsletter.
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As MEMS-based products enter the mainstream in increasing numbers, manufacturing issues, as opposed to development issues, are growing in importance.
Development is still critical; however, a successful MEMS product needs to be manufactured in volume at competitive costs, with repeatable quality and ongoing improvements that meet changing customer requirements.
As a MEMS supplier, we believe these manufacturing issues are as important to the future of the industry as are novel uses of MEMS technology. In fact, I am not aware of any MEMS suppliers that have become successful by making a new product once in a lab. Without exception our customers expect their products, MEMS-based or not, to perform well today and improve in cost and functionality in the near future.
For this reason we believe that MEMS companies are not vastly different from manufacturing companies. Any MEMS company that tells you, the customer, that “MEMS manufacturing is different”, or “MEMS products are unique”, is probably not on a track to success or longevity.
At Micralyne, we don’t have all the answers to growing the industry; however, we do know that our focus on successfully supplying our manufacturing customers has lead to significant growth. Revenue is expected to be up between 40% and 50% this year, and to meet this demand we are expanding our staff, and planning a facility and capital equipment expansion that will further this growth.
At most companies, the people “in the trenches” are the ones whose experience counts. With this in mind, we surveyed our engineering and development staff for tips on successful MEMS product development and manufacturing. We’ve summarized the results in our Tech Brief below and I think you’ll find them relevant to any MEMS product supply program.
To close, on behalf of the staff of Micralyne, I would like to thank our customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders for their business and support in 2005 and we wish all of you a healthy and prosperous 2006.
- Chris Lumb, President & CEO, Micralyne Inc. -
Product Development Tips
As an experienced MEMS manufacturer, Micralyne is aware of the many challenges and drawbacks that appear during the early stages of product development. Over the years, project managers at Micralyne have learned a variety of lessons to minimize these risks. Listed below are several tips Micralyne would like to share.
By taking these suggestions into account, you can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of MEMS product development. Ensure that both the developer and foundry are working together with the same level of expectations. This will decrease your product time-to-market and ease the process of getting a design successfully transferred to a manufacturing environment.
- Each MEMS foundry has its own technologies and processes that make up its core competencies. Find a foundry that has a rich history in producing the type of device and features desired. You will shorten your time-to-market and increase quality of both initial prototypes and products in manufacturing.
- Design for test and packaging. Testing, QA (Quality Assurance) and packaging issues can be a large portion of the fabrication expense and are often ignored during the early stages of product development. Addressing these issues up front will reduce both development and ongoing fabrication costs.
- Run tolerance tests to find out what specifications are absolutely paramount and what specifications can be relaxed. An over specified device will be needlessly expensive to produce.
- Bring the foundry into the design process as early as possible. The earlier you involve the foundry, the easier it is to create a manufacturable design.
- Be clear and specific about requirements. Keep the engineering as simple as possible and do not be afraid to ask for what you want. If you do not ask, you may not get it.
- Do not underestimate the time and expense required to develop a stable design and process. Unlike cases in the fabless semiconductor industry, it may take more than a single run to get a product to meet specifications. Usually a foundry runs a combination of short loop experiments, prototyping, and engineering runs before transferring products to manufacturing.
- Plan to succeed. In consultation with your foundry, set achievable goals in terms of price, delivery time, or quality. Getting input early from a foundry will allow you to prepare more realistic budgets and timelines that you will need to secure financing commitments.
- As much as possible, use standard known microfabrication process steps with achievable tolerances. If the foundry needs to develop several new process steps, you will have higher development costs and lower yields during initial manufacturing. At the same time, the onus is on your foundry to supply you with repeatable and reliable processes that you can design to.
- Design for manufacturability. Sometimes designers force a process beyond its capabilities to achieve results. If fundamental process limits are being tested in several areas of the product, yields and repeatability will be lower. The design will most likely need to be modified in order for the product to meet required specifications.
- Think about whether the device can be transferred into commercial production. A complex MEMS device that represents a novel technical solution may be very difficult to manufacture at a high volume or at a reasonable cost.
Microfluidic Tool KitTM Discount
Micralyne Inc. is pleased to announce a SPECIAL OFFER for the Microfluidic Tool KitTM.
To place an order or to learn more, please contact Donna Bonsteel via email or by phone at +1-780-431-4406.
||Purchase a Microfluidic Tool KitTM by February 15, 2006, and receive a price discount of 20%!
Micralyne Wins Two Canadian Innovation Awards
Micralyne Inc. has won the 2005 Canadian Innovation Award for Innovative Business of the Year and the 2005 Canadian Innovation Award for New Technology based on Micralyne’s gold-tin solder electroplating process.
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Chris Lumb Named New Chair of CMC Microsystems Board
CMC Microsystems (CMC) is pleased to announce that Chris Lumb, President and CEO of Micralyne Inc., will serve as Chairman of CMC’s Board of Directors. His guidance will be instrumental as CMC implements its strategic plan for 2005-2010 to accelerate the development of new Canadian-made microsystems for all sectors of the economy.
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Micralyne Announces Winner of Microsystems Design Award
Micralyne Inc. is pleased to announce that Behraad Bahreyni from the University of Manitoba has won the annual Micralyne sponsored Microsystems Design Award for 2005. Under the supervision of Dr. Cyrus Shafai, Mr. Bahreyni designed a new magnetometer for power electronic applications, while demonstrating complete system with MMS and other electronic circuits.
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Manufacturing jobs can be cool and 'clean'
From designing manufacturing systems to the world of small tech, Greater Edmonton’s 1,200-plus manufacturers offer a wide variety of opportunities in a growing and exciting industry. Take Edmonton-based Micralyne for example. With over 100 employees and growing, it’s a rapidly expanding company at the leading edge of Edmonton’s micro and nano cluster and an innovator in manufacturing.
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Additional Reading & MEMS Industry Resources
Some additional reading that might be of interest to you in regard to Micralyne or the small tech industry is:
Photonics West 2006 - Photonics West is North America's largest commercial exhibition on optics, lasers, biomedical optics, optoelectronic components, and imaging technologies. Visit Micralyne at booth #6055 from January 24-26 in San Jose, California.
MD&M West - Micralyne will be attending this event from January 30 - February 2, 2006 in Anaheim, California. MD&M West offers all the resources to successfully design, develop and manufacture medical devices and equipment.
OFC/NFOEC - Join Micralyne at booth #3426 in Anaheim, California from March 7-9, 2006. OFC/NFOEC draws a vast array of consumers representing every sector of optical communications, from research and network design to manufacturing and systems integration.
Contact Information: Micralyne Inc.
1911-94 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6N 1E6
Phone: 1.780.431.4400 Fax: 1.780.431.4422